From Book Review

Book Review – Bicycle Texas, The Lones Star State’s Best Rides By Tom Johanningmeier

Back in the late 1980′s I bought two books about Texas bike routes. One covered the gulf coast region and the other the Hill Country. Those are long out of print and out of date. Last week I got an email from Barry Shlachter, Top Hand, Great Texas Line Press with information about a recently published booklet with lots of information about routes, bike shops, bicycle clubs and other resources for the casual to avid bicyclist.

The author is a deputy sports editor for the Fort Worth Star Telegram and an avid cyclist according to the biography at the end of the book.

One of the first things that caught my attention when I opened the envelop containing the book was the size. This book will fit in a small space. It measures 5 1/2″ x 4 3/8″ x 1/4″ thick. But don’t let the small size fool you. Each page has a multitude of information about the featured ride. The state is broken up into seven regions with the rides grouped by region. Some of the rides come from bike shops, popular ride events and bicycle clubs. I am familiar with several of the routes Mr. Johanningermeier included.

A rundown of the information provided for each ride: a route map with road numbers or street names, mileage points from start to finish, elevation profile,a brief description of the route or points of interest on the route, length of the route, a dot system showing the difficulty, peak elevation, elevation gain. Sometimes a phone number or website address will offer more information. Each region has 5 or more routes.

At the back of the booklet are sections on bike paths and trails, mountain bike trails, and tips and listings.

The question: does this booklet provide enough information to strike out on a ride? Due to the size of the page and all of the information the maps can be small but the roads are labeled and in some places a blowup of streets is shown. If I was somewhat familiar with an area I think the map is sufficient to get from the start to the finish. Several routes are out and back but many are loops. In lightly populated areas knowing where stores or other supply points are located could be helpful. I think of this booklet as a source of routes that I have not been exposed to. Texas scenery varies widely as the introduction recounts. Someday I would like to ride near Big Bend. The routes look interesting and gives me a place to start. It might be helpful to look at the route area at one of the online map sites to get a picture of the roads and nearby towns. One subject I hear about from cyclists is the road surface. A route may look great on paper but 20 mils on chip’n seal road surfaces will be a killer. Shoulders in high traffic areas are important as well.

Overall I think this booklet will come in handy. When we travel Texas the small size makes this an easy addition to a suitcase. I will use the bicycle club listing and bicycle shop list to validate the information I have on Texbiker.net.

The booklet is now available at Bike Lane, Shenandoah, TX; Houston Cycle Centers; Bike Farm, Austin; Scruffy’s, Austin; Barnes & Noble; Amazon; Trinity Cycles, Fort Worth; Colonel’s Bikes, Fort Worth; Richardson Bike Mart, Bike World, San Antonio; and directly from the publisher, www.greattexasline.com, at a $1 discount. List price $5.95. www.savoryhousepress.com. Also available at Peyton’s Bikes, 4712 N Midkiff Rd, Midland TX 79705.